Block printing workshop at The London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum opened its new Global Poster Gallery  a permanent exhibition which showcases commercial poster art and design from London Transport Museum’s collection.  To mark the opening, a special Museum Lates event called "Posters and Posers" was held, and London Transport Museum invited me to run one of my printing workshops to celebrate London and its transport system.

Scene in London Samantha Foley hanging London Transport Posters
scene in London poster workshop

My task was to design a workshop that would allow visitors to create their own designs inspired by the poster collection from the Museum's archive. I set about digging into the poster archive to search for design styles that I could reference in my workshop. I was particularly drawn towards the work of Cyril Power, Elizabeth Baranov, Paul Catherall and Clive Gardiner – artists that used perspective, block colour and simple forms to create dynamic and beautiful images.

London poster inspiration
Inspired by these artists, I decided to create a workshop combining collage and block printing. I created a range of custom stamps featuring London Transport imagery (escalators, modes of transport, people, bus stops etc), and chose a range coloured papers that referenced the work of Power, Baranov, Catherall and Gardiner. 

London Transport printing stamps by Scene in London
With the paper and pre-made printing stamps, attendees could play with background colour, layering and composition to create their own unique poster print. We used block printing inks, rollers and coloured paper to create our London Transport posters and the quick and fun printing process helped to create energetic and exciting posters.

Poster workshop by Scene in London for London Transport
Printing workshop by Scene in London for London Transport

I was delighted to welcome almost 100 participants to my printing workshop, all of whom got to take home their A3 London Transport poster as a souvenir of their night at the Museum Late. 


Posters by Scene in London for London Transport

Posters drying at Transport Museum

I am so impressed with the Transport Museum's free online poster archive and urge you to check it out, especially if you have an interest in design and London Transport. It's incredible how the techniques, styles and methods changed over time. Spanning from the 1900's when Chief Executive of London Transport, Frank Pick, announced the importance of design for the company.

Here's a brief history of poster design for the London Transport system.

1920's/1930's

The Golden Age. Poster design reached its peak of stylistic quality. London Transport is regarded as a leading patron of the arts.

Style - bold modernism and clear messaging. Futuristic and Art Deco styles are popular. Female artists are valued and over a quarter of London Underground publicity is designed by women (which is more than most companies at that time).

 

1940's/1950's

After the Second World War, the London transport system was carrying more passengers than ever. Poster designs became more informative to better inform the rise of passengers.

 

1960's/1970's

Decline in passengers using the London Transport system. Tighter budgets and a huge decline in commissioning artists. Poster art was seen as a luxury.

 

1970's

the use of agencies increases and advertising work is contracted out to agencies. There was a move from a 'soft sell' approach to art posters with measurable results.

 

1980's

Nearly all adverts were contracted through agencies. Posters became more photographic. In 1986, commissioning artists started again with the help of the 'Art of the Underground' scheme which helped to fill blank spaces.

 

1990's

Poster space became more aggressively sold after London Transport advertising became privatised. 

 

2000's

London Transport became Transport For London. 

There were more modes of transport with the addition of boats.

Artists were commissioned to create posters with a clear marketing message and needed to compete with big, bright plasma screens.

 

Thank you to Molly at the London Transport Museum for organising such a brilliant event and including me in the special Museum Late. And thank you Kazvare Made It for supporting me and my brand. 

 

Global Posters Gallery is a permanent exhibition at The London Transport Museum

 

Address

London Transport MuseumCovent Garden PiazzaLondonWC2E 7BB



Samantha Foley from Scene in London at London Transport Museum
Photo courtesy of London Transport Museum. 

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